It’s often easiest to take for granted the things that are right beneath our feet, and so it goes for one of the most vital yet overlooked foundations for human life: land. Providing us with our homes, our food, our clean water and air, land is the core provider of our well-being, and yet we rarely give it the attention it deserves, despite climate change increasingly encroaching on its health – and, in turn, ours.
In May 2022, UN member states, scientists, activists, Indigenous groups, civil society and all manner of decision-makers convened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire for the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Here, the state of land came under the microscope in discussions and negotiations, in a bid to find ways to better care for it in the face of climate change while still using its resources to support the livelihoods of generations to come.
Ahead of these meetings, this GLF Live featured UNCCD deputy executive secretary Andrea Meza Murillo, sharing on the most pressing challenges for land at this moment, her hopes for COP15’s outcomes, and why it’s critical that land be remembered and protected in decision-making as the invaluable bedrock that it is.
Andrea Meza Murillo is Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Prior to joining the Convention, she served as Minister of Energy and Environment for the Government of Costa Rica. She brings over 20 years of expertise in sustainable development, having worked in more than 15 Latin American countries to formulate public policies, participate in international negotiations, and execute climate, conservation and restoration projects. Previously, she held a number of senior positions, including Director of Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica; Director of the Mesoamerican Office of the firm Studies, Projects and Planning EPYPSA; and Director of the Programme for Conservation of Private Lands at the Center for Environmental Law and Natural Resources. She is a lawyer with a specialization in local development. Ms. Meza Murillo has a notable history supporting UNCCD’s work, especially around the Desertification and Drought Day 2021 hosted by Costa Rica, rallying up global ambition to restore degraded lands.